For our last lesson, we went to the United Nations Headquarters. It is located in turtle bay on the East of Manhattan and was constructed in stages between 1948 and 1952. We went to the Danish trusteeship council to listen to talks during our visit there. The Danish trusteeship council was built in 1952 by Finn Juhl. He designed the seating for hall in a horse shoe style so that a hierarchal system did not exist within the council. His original design has been restored due to the large increase in the number of countries that joined the United Nations over the years.
The first talk that we had was focused around Danish sustainable designs and why they are so successful. It was mentioned that the Denmark was an extremely flat country with gloomy weather hence the need for more beautiful designs. Furthermore, due to financial constraints, it was extremely difficult for the government to spend too much money on experimenting or on waste hence, quick, efficient, cheap and beautiful designs were extremely important. Denmark was also ambitious when it came to their goals in reaching sustainability, for example, they aim that Copenhagen will be an entirely carbon neutral city. This was done by looking on ways to improve many aspects of the city. Mobility within the city of Copenhagen is different from other cities because it is known to have the best bicycle system in the world, with most of its population using bicycles as their primary source of transport. Also, emphasis was placed on the spaces in between buildings because when these spaces are driving, the people and the city is thriving.
Joel Towers, the dean of Parsons was one of the speakers at the UN. He spoke mainly about having a sustainability orientated mindset when designing. He started his talk by stating different number such as 860 gigatons of CO2 emissions that we can continue to produce for a 2% increase in average global temperature and 2860 gigaton of known fossil fuel reserves that are available, which is equivalent to three and a half times the total global budget. These numbers reinforced how bad the current situation is and the urgency for change. A saying that I particularly liked of Dean Towers is “Redesign design for resilience.” Resilience is the capacity to absorb change without collapse.
One of the ways that we can design for resilience is to reduce the waste produced when creating a product. It is important to go into design with the mindset that there is no place to throw away stuff because our trash never actually leaves us. Even in space the old parts of rockets and satellites have been floating around the Earth and these items cause a serious threat to our existing satellites which are necessary for almost all forms of communication on Earth.
By the end of this talk, I have gained a more in-depth knowledge not only on the effects and the issue of climate change but I have also become more aware of how design plays a huge part in climate change.